Stalin and WWII

zodiac zodiac at gold.interlog.com
Sat Jul 1 17:42:35 MDT 1995


Tom writes:

> There is a definitive work by a German military historian
> (unfortunately, I don't have a copy handy so I can't tell you
> hist name...I think Paul something) called _Hitler Moves East_.

Hmmm.... is it Paul Carel?

I have not read his books, but that fellow I mentioned in my last post in
this threat (Jack Radey, the military researcher, simulation designer),
took a particularly negative tone to the quality of this fellow's
research. So much so that, despite having read the designer notes almost
a decade ago, I remember the name vividly.

> The book documents the incredible unnecessary loss of life on
> both sides caused by Hitler and Stalin (neither of whom trusted
> his generals) meddling in military decisions.  The German general
> staff had opposed invading Russia in the first place on the basis
> of historical experience of what happened to invaders of that
> country (regardless of the character of the Russian regime of the
> time).  The Soviet generals never thought Hitler would be crazy
> enough to overrule his generals.  So neither side had any
> coherent plans.

I dunno, Tom...

I don't think you can say the Germans didn't have a "coherent plan."
Operation Barbarosa was one of the greatest military operations in human
history. And it was extremely effective. But for Hitler's meddling around
Kiev, the Germans could possibly have taken Moscow before the release of
the Siberian army (which came after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor).

What the Germans did NOT have, was a plan that saw the Soviets survive 1941.
That is why German soldiers were not issued winter gear, and froze horribly
in that first Russian winter. Hitler himself, in the planning stages, agreed
that unless the USSR fell in the first year, the invasion would fail and
Germany would lose the war.

(This rather reminds of Lenin/Trotsky's predictions that if Germany failed to
successfully revolt, the Russian Revolution was doomed. In each case, the
plans did not unfold, and both had to fall back into a holding operation of
increasing desperation.)

> Both Stalin and Hitler, mistrusting their generals, ordered them
> to never retreat.  Hundreds of thousands of German and Soviet
> soldiers were encircled by the other side in cutoff pockets and
> either killed or made prisoners of war (which, of course,
> frequently was the same as being killed, only slower).

This was merely Stalin's opening strategy. That is, in the face of the 1941
assault (Barbarosa). He quickly realized he was a hopeless strategist and
abandoned that to the traditional "scorched earth retreat" policy. (It
was here the USSR reached a disgusting height of nationalism that was the
logical result of "socialism in one country" -- they held up the Czarist
general Kutusov, who used scoreched earth against Naopleon in 1812, as a
hero.)

As to the no-retreat strategy: After 1941, the Soviet army had no trouble
with the concept of strategic retreat. To their immense gain. They understood
their terrain and corrected their tactics accordingly.

Hitler, on the other hand, was beyond help.


Ken.


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